From across the Archdiocese of Perth, more than 180 married couples and their multigenerational families gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral on Saturday 10 August for the annual Marriage Day Mass.
Celebrating the annual occasion was Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton who was joined by concelebrants Episcopal Vicar for Education and Faith Formation, the Very Rev Fr Vincent Glynn, and Balcatta Parish Priest Father Emil Ciecierega SDS.
Speaking about the sacrament of marriage, Bishop Sproxton shared that “Christian marriage is one of those wonderful things that we are able to offer to the world, as an example of how God’s love can bring about unity.”
Reflecting on the Gospel’s imagery of branches being connected to the vine, Jesus’ love for the Father connects His followers intimately with God.
“As disciples of Christ, we receive “strength, graces and gifts” and through the vocation of marriage, couples become “witnesses of the love of God at work between us,” Bishop Sproxton said.
“God’s love is comprehensive” and brings “about the possibility of unity, despite all those things in our lives and even in our society, that are attempting to pull people apart,” he continued.
“We’re all imperfect people and the love that we experience in our families, is as good as it can be, but we need to remain connected to Christ and maintain that bond with Christ, who is the source of love and who is the source of us growing in love,” he said.
The central message from Bishop Sproxton’s homily was on forgiveness.
The sign of our Christian faith, “the cross, is one of the greatest signs that we can be healed. It’s a continuing sign and reassurance that we can take the risk to ask forgiveness and to offer forgiveness in marriages, because this is really the very core of love.”
He encouraged married couples, telling them that “On the day when you said I promise to love you all the days of my life, to love you in the good times and in the times of challenge and struggle, I will express that love when I am able to ask forgiveness, and when I am able to forgive. It takes time to heal, of course, but commit to using time, in order to enable that grace of God, to bring about a healing within us.”
“Be aware and alert to the negative power of bitterness, and resentment, which can take hold of us. That bitterness is like a cancer, and it fuels itself. And it will eventually destroy the person who holds this bitterness in their heart. Let’s always be reminded of those words of St Paul, do not let the sun go down on your anger.”
“Bearing in mind, of the cross that is in our life, that cross of redemption, that cross of possibility, that we can be people of faith, of trust, and people who are able to offer forgiveness to one another.”
“So, we thank God for this opportunity for us to celebrate today. And we thank God for you as you continue to be a sign of the presence of that powerful Spirit in our world, that brings unity, when everything, many things perhaps, are opposed to unity. We pray that your witness and your love, will be an encouragement to others.”
Director of the Archdiocese’s Centre for Life Marriage and Family, Derek Boylen, spoke to the families and echoed Bishop’s Sproxton’s key message.
“Every marriage is called to be a mirror of God’s love. With the high prevalence of family breakdown in our community,” Mr Boylen said.
“It occurs to me that we’ve lost a lot of the cultural wisdom about how to build long-lasting, committed marriages.
“Your marriages are a true sign of hope for the world today. The grace entrusted to us by God on the day of our wedding was not just for us in our personal marriages. It was a grace entrusted to us for the transformation of our world, to be beacons of hope, and to build His kingdom by our loving of one another.”
Derek’s wife, Karen Boylen, also shared that “in a world enamoured with living for the moment and short-term gains, our love for one another teaches the world, that relationships can be healed, and we can work together to overcome adversity.”
At the conclusion of the Marriage Day Mass, 189 couples who celebrated milestone anniversaries received a commemorative certificate, with 16 couples marking over 60 years of marriage and over 50 couples celebrating 50 or more years together. The annual Marriage Day Mass reinforces that marriage is a journey worth celebrating and a commitment worth preserving.